Black liquid gold

Black Gold.

Cup of joe.

Morning jolt.

Liquid energy.

Whatever you call it, most of us drink it; you’re probably drinking it right now.

Coffee.

Can you guess what Helen was thinking.... (NEED COFFEE)

Can you guess what Helen was thinking.... (NEED COFFEE)

Most of the FTDM’ers can’t start our day without coffee (myself included). It is what gets us motivated and active, it is what makes us productive, sheesh, it is what makes us stay awake during those long nights of writing papers, finishing up experiments, and data analyzing.

Our natural state

Before we get into the aspects of coffee and how it affects our body, we have to talk about what our body naturally does.

Our body is in tune with a regular rhythm; most of us are awake in the day and asleep during the night. As part of our natural daily cycle, our body produces adenosine, a neurotransmitter. In our brain, we have specific adenosine receptors to receive the adenosine; you can think of the brain and neuroscience like a puzzle: you need certain specific pieces to fit together in order for something to work. When adenosine binds to these receptors, it causes the slowing down of brain activity and cascades to the rest of the body’s activity including the dilation of blood vessels, and ultimately causing drowsiness and sleep.

Now bring coffee into the mix.

What is it about coffee that makes us awake?

Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant. When we drink coffee, the caffeine enters our blood stream through the stomach and small intestine.

Structurally, caffeine looks very similar to adenosine. Therefore caffeine can attach to adenosine receptors and block adenosine. Once caffeine is attached to these receptors, instead of slowing down brain activity, it speeds it up; blood vessels contract, causing alertness and wakefulness. ZING!

Below is a fun way of depicting how caffeine works. Credit to the Oatmeal (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/coffee)

Credit to the Oatmeal. http://theoatmeal.com/comics/coffee

Credit to the Oatmeal. http://theoatmeal.com/comics/coffee

The stats about the cafe

According to the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Coffee Association, as of 2010, 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day and drink an average of 3.1 cups a day (a cup being 9 oz).

Coffee and how it’s made

Because of our love for coffee, over time we have developed new ways to make coffee in a hurry or bring out the most flavor out of it. Coffee can be made in all different ways and produce different tastes. These are some of the common ways:

Almost every household has one of these.

Almost every household has one of these.

1) Drip Coffee Makers
This is probably the machine that almost everyone has in their homes and the method that is most common. Coffee grounds are placed in a filter basket inside the machine, and the internal reservoir is filled with water. The machine heats the water and the hot water drips through the grounds into a glass carafe to produce brewed coffee. 

2) French Press.
This method is also known as a plunger pot. Coffee grounds are added directly to a pot of hot water, and after they "steep", you press down a plunger inside the pot to strain the grounds to the bottom of the pot. 

How to use a French Press (http://asktatjana.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/coffee-press-how-to.png)

How to use a French Press (http://asktatjana.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/coffee-press-how-to.png)

The setup of a percolator

The setup of a percolator

3) Percolator
This is a bit of an old-fashioned method yet is still used. A basket of coffee grounds is placed in a kettle, and the water is boiled. The boiling water bubbles up through the grounds, where you can see it in a glass bubble at the top of the percolator. When it gets to the right darkness to your taste, it's ready.

A vacuum pot in use.

A vacuum pot in use.

4) Vacuum Pot
A vacuum pot has 2 chambers, a lower one and an upper one, attached together with a filter. Water goes in the bottom, and coffee grounds in the top. It's placed on a heat source, and as the water heats up, it is forced upwards to mix with the coffee grounds. When the pot is removed from the heat, the cooling lower chamber then sucks all the brewed coffee back down through the filter (which keeps the coffee grounds in the top). Leaving you with fresh brewed coffee in the lower part of the vacuum pot.

Credit to Lance Andrew

Credit to Lance Andrew

Different tastes and flavors

If you’ve ever hung around a coffee shop, you tend to hear funny words being thrown around.

As a coffee drinker, I am amazed by the different flavors and the fun names for the different styles of coffee, almost to a point where I get confused of what to order (and the people in back of me get impatient because they want their coffee).

Frankly, I'm simply a mocha-latte-with-skim-milk person myself.

The following infographic says it best.

Mmm. Maybe I should grab a cup of Joe right now!